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Agir pour l'école and Dassault Group

One in three primary school leavers faces major learning difficulties, falling short of basic reading and writing skills essential for a successful education. To address this alarming reality, in 2010 the Agir pour l’Ecole association implemented an innovative and effective program to stave off illiteracy and reduce scholastic failure. Created by a network of teachers, guidance counselors, national and regional school inspectors, and researchers in the field of cognitive psychology, all of whom see education as a priority for the country and school failure as a scourge to be combated, the association enjoys steadfast support from the French Ministry of National Education.

Dassault Group learned about Agir pour l’Ecole in 2010 thanks to Jean-Michel Blanquer, then Director General of Schooling at the Ministry of National Education (and a former Rector of the Académie of Créteil). Recognizing the dangers of widespread illiteracy, with 15% of students unable to read and write upon completion of primary school, in 2012 the company chose to support Agir pour l’Ecole’s educational program.

Acquire phonological skills

The association and the many researchers who participate in its work firmly believe that the illiteracy rate can be brought down to 5% by re-examining current approaches to learning and implementing a “structured” phonological teaching method. With one in three primary school teachers feeling powerless to combat scholastic failure, Agir pour l’Ecole will take advantage of experimental research findings to provide educators with new insight. Students embarking on their third and final year of kindergarten are prepared to develop reading skills, and extensive research has made it possible to identify the specific competencies they must acquire before entering first grade. These include phonological awareness (the ability to recognize and organize sounds), the capacity to analyze syllables and learn simple words, as well as knowledge of the alphabet and vocabulary. Mastering these different skills will enable students to learn to read.

It has been proven that 80% of children lacking phonological awareness at the end of their kindergarten years will not have learned to read in second grade and will be almost inevitably destined for scholastic failure.

Train teachers

The Agir pour l’Ecole program was initially launched in four school systems in France (Créteil, Lille, Versailles, Clermont Ferrand) for students in the final year of kindergarten, as well as first and second grade (known as CP and CE1). The initiative focuses on Priority Education Areas (ZEP) where scholastic difficulties are the most pronounced. The selected ZEP teachers all apply the phonological method in their classes on a voluntary basis. Before implementing the method with small groups of students, they participated in a week-long training session to better understand and apply the program. They receive support from Agir pour l’Ecole trainers throughout the year, working together to analyze development and improvement of reading skills, with a targeted focus on each individual student.

The Autophono app

In 2013, the program was further developed, providing teachers with digital tablets for use in class. These devices feature the “Autophono” app, designed by Agir pour l’Ecole researchers, which includes more than 50 exercises to guide students through phonological reading practice at their own pace. A continuous assessment framework makes it possible to track students’ progress.
The program has since expanded into two additional school systems for a total of 500 classes and 10,000 students.

The results achieved through the Agir pour l’Ecole method appear extremely promising for all the students. They demonstrate that children exposed to this reading method – not only more rigorous and systematic, but also more fun – are better equipped for academic success going forward.

Reduce inequalities and curb school failure

By supporting this innovation, Dassault Group helps thousands of struggling students develop and master vital skills (particularly reading) before it is too late. The public sector, the business world and citizens have a collective responsibility to fight against inequalities and scholastic failure. The future of our children is at stake.

Dassault Group champions Agir pour l’Ecole with a view to helping young people, reducing inequalities and promoting equal opportunities for all.

Agir pour l’Ecole salutes the support of Dassault Group

“Dassault Group offers reliable, long-term support suited to the protracted timeline of scientific research. The company clearly feels strongly about the issue, demonstrating a deep-rooted faith in education as a key factor in the fight against inequalities and a strong will to implement effective programs. Our respective philosophies are very similar: Dassult’s input is pragmatic, concrete and always constructive,” observes Christophe Gomes, Managing Director of Agir pour l’Ecole.